Your mood, body, and thoughts can change drastically throughout your menstrual cycle. So much so in fact, that at times you may feel like PMS rules your life – you’re not alone. The fluctuations in your mood might leave you wanting a pick-me-up like a fun-filled boozy night with friends or a Netflix binge with a glass of wine. But can you drink alcohol on your period?
The short answer is yes. You can drink alcohol on your period – if you want to. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you, but it’s good to keep in mind that as our hormones fluctuate week on week, there may be a better time during your cycle to schedule in drinks plans. As a reminder, here are the different phases of your menstrual cycle:
Different stages of the menstrual cycle
Stage 1: Menstrual Phase – where your oestrogen and progesterone levels fall.
Stage 2: Follicular Phase – Your period ends, and oestrogen increases again.
Stage 3: Ovulatory Phase – this is right before PMS begins, and oestrogen is at its peak.
Stage 4: Luteal Phase – PMS might mean fatigue, higher body temperatures or any of these other PMS symptoms.
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Is drinking alcohol on your period safe?
If you’re drinking safely and not in excess, it is safe to drink alcohol during your period. Alcohol is unlikely to seriously impact your menstrual cycle, regardless of when you choose to enjoy a glass of your favourite tipple. But it’s good to be aware that drinking at different stages of your cycle might have different effects on your body too. Similar to how you might adjust your skincare for your menstrual phases, you might benefit from adjusting your drinking habits throughout your cycle too.
How does alcohol affect your menstrual cycle?
There are several potential ways that drinking alcohol can affect your period or other stages of your menstrual cycle. Here are the most common effects:
Alcohol can temporarily increase your levels of testosterone and oestrogen – the hormones that are essential for ovulation. These fluctuations in your hormone levels can lead to irregular or even missed periods, but typically only when alcohol is consumed in high doses.
A common symptom that accompanies the menstrual phase of your cycle is cramps, and dehydration from alcohol can worsen them. Cramps are already an unpleasant experience, so if you’re drinking alcohol on your period, be sure to stay as hydrated as possible. Alternating alcoholic drinks with water is a good habit to help you stay hydrated regardless of where you are in your menstrual cycle.
If you get cravings as a PMS symptom, you’ll know the period hunger is real! Part of the reason why you might feel hungrier and crave certain foods when you’re PMSing is down to a lack of hydration. Alcohol dehydrates your body too, worsening cravings. If you want to keep your cravings to a minimum, take our advice as above and stay hydrated when drinking alcohol in the lead up to your period.
The luteal and menstrual phases of your cycle can leave you feeling fatigued. Alcohol is a depressant, which flattens your nervous system, this coupled with the fact that many alcoholic drinks contain high levels of sugar. If you’re already feeling lethargic, drinking is likely to cause a sugar crash, leaving you feeling even more tired than before. Drinking alcohol also lessens the quality of your sleep, so it might take your body a little while to catch up after an alcohol-fuelled night during these two phases.
Drinking alcohol during your luteal phase might have a noticeable impact on your mood. This is already a time in your menstrual cycle when you might experience mood swings, and alcohol can heighten those highs and the lows. You could experience an increased amount of enjoyment when drinking, but consequently, increased feelings of sadness similar to depression and anxiety.
Although it isn’t exactly clear how or why alcohol affects your fertility, according to Anthony Rutherford, a consultant in reproductive medicine and Chair of the British Fertility Society, even light alcohol consumption (one to five drinks a week) can reduce chances of conception. More than ten drinks per week can affect fertility even more drastically. If you’re trying to conceive, it’s a good idea to avoid alcohol to maximise your chances. This also avoids any accidental harm if you don’t know you’re pregnant. It’s important to remember that this does not mean alcohol consumption is an alternative contraception option.
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When should I drink alcohol during my menstrual cycle?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill to boost your endurance at the bar or to be rid of the side effects of drinking. If you find that drinking on your period or right before in the luteal phase worsens your symptoms, or that you have a reduced tolerance for alcohol, it might be best to stick with soft drinks during these phases of your cycle. If you are going to drink while you’re PMSing, steer clear of sugary drinks like fruity cocktails. Think of it this way—your period-related headaches will be less of a drag if booze isn’t involved, right?
Tips for drinking during your period
- Drink plenty of water – alcohol can make you feel dehydrated but especially when you’re in the luteal phase, and water is exactly what your body is looking for.
- Avoid caffeine – caffeine is an inflammatory substance that might further exacerbate your PMS symptoms if you’ve been drinking on your period.
- Eat well – add foods to your meals that are rich in multitudes of vitamins to help with period cramps.
- Get plenty of sleep – schedule yourself a lie-in or early night following all the fun, your body will thank you for it.
Have you found that drinking alcohol during your period influences any of your symptoms? Tell us in the comments!